Amanda Ray Beard (born October 29, 1981, Irvine, California) is an American Olympic swimmer and model.
Beard made her first Olympic appearance at the 1996 games at the age of 14. She won silver medals in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststrokes, and a gold in the medley relay. Her young-teen manner captured the attention of the media, and she was often photographed clutching her teddy bear which joined her on the medal stand. She won a bronze medal in the 200-meter breaststroke at the 2000 Games. Amanda attended the University of Arizona where she captured an individual NCAA National Championship in 2001.
In 2003 she became the world champion and world record holder in the 200m breaststroke. She also made a good showing at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, and she competed in the 2004 Olympic Games, where she won a gold medal in the 200-meter breaststroke, her first individual gold medal. She also won a silver medal in the 200-meter individual medley, and she finished fourth in the 100-meter breaststroke.
Amanda has won eight United States titles (thrice in both the 200m breaststroke and the 100m breaststroke, plus twice in the 200m individual medley). She was 1st in world ranking of 200m breaststroke in 2003.
Her modeling work through photos in swimwear, including bikinis, have been in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. She is a spokesperson for Defenders of Wildlife, and she enjoys interior decorating. Both of her sisters, Leah and Taryn, are swimmers. Amanda placed eighth in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Celebrity car race in 2006.
Beard dated South African swimmer Ryk Neethling for nearly six years, but that relationship ended in the spring of 2005. She is well-known among stockcar racing circles, after dating several of the drivers. Her relationship with Nextel Cup Series driver Carl Edwards ended in April of 2006.
Beard was featured on the cover of the September 2004 issue of FHM magazine that was titled the "Sexy Olympic special". Alongside Beard were pro volleyball player Logan Tom, pro track stars Amy Acuff and Jenny Adams, and fellow pro swimmer Haley Cope. Amanda was featured on the cover and an inside pictorial for the August 2006 issue of FHM, which also named her the world's sexiest athlete on the cover.
Amanda posed for the July 2007 issue of Playboy. She was featured on the cover and in a nude pictorial. ESPN article